Monday, December 29, 2008

Apricot-glazed pork tenderloin

There is such pleasure in bringing a delicious home-cooked meal to the table, and the enjoyment belongs both to the one who prepared it and to those who'll enjoy it. As wives and moms, nurturing is part of the role God gave us, and in an important way, that means feeding the hungry bellies of our family with our love-filled cooking. There's nothing better!

One of the dishes that gets most requested at my house is this one:

I clipped it out of Southern Living Magazine a few years ago, and that's where the above picture is from. They're showing it served over rice, but I always serve it with mashed potatoes and either baby carrots (drizzled with a honey/butter sauce), steamed green beans or sauteed mushrooms. Any veggie will do of course.

It's a beautiful dish to serve but yet it's very simple to make. My favorite kind! :)

The glaze needs just a few ingredients:

There are only 3 of us in our family so if you'd like to make it, simply adapt the recipe according to your needs. I buy a pork tenderloin of a little over a pound, so 2 lbs worth should be good for 5-6 people.

Place the pork tenderloin on a lightly greased rack in a foil-lined pan and sprinkle it evenly with salt. Mix the following ingredients in a bowl:

1/3 cup apricot preserves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated ginger (I use the puree you see above)
1 tablespoon water

Spread the mixture evenly over the pork.

Bake at 435 for 25-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 155 F. Remove the pork from the oven and cover with foil. Let stand 5-10 minutes, until the thermometer registers 160 F.

(Every oven varies so start checking for temperature after 25 minutes. If your tenderloin is on the larger side, it may take closer to 35 minutes to be ready.)

Then slice and serve with your favorite veggies or other side dishes. There you have it, dinner that's good enough for a special occasion and one that needed no fuss at all. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thank you!

A week or two ago, I received this beautiful award from Susan at A Life of Grace.

Susan, thank you for thinking of me and giving me this sweet award. I appreciate it!

I had to list 5 things I'm "addicted" to. I'd say some of the things I most enjoy are part of the following: chatting with a girlfriend over a cup of tea or coffee, reading cookbooks and collecting recipes, cleanliness, watching my little boy play Little League sports (and hubby coaching), and of course loving God and my family.

The rules are that I must give this award to 5 other bloggers, but I really have difficulty in picking and choosing because that means leaving many people out. The fact is, there are so many of you who have such beautiful blogs where the conversation is friendly, inspiring, and brings glory to Christ.

I'd like to spread the joy attached in receiving this award by doing things a little differently. If I'm a regular visitor to your blog, then it's because I think you and your blog are fabulous! So, if you'd like to, please pick up this award and make it yours, especially if you've never received this one before. Please pass it on to 5 other bloggers or as many as you wish.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

May we all be forever thankful that God sent us His one and only Son, the most generous and loving gift anyone could ever receive. In Him alone is the promise of eternal life. In Him alone is everything we children of God could ever need. What an amazing reason to celebrate!

Wishing all of you a Christmas filled with joy, love, peace, and wonderful memories to be cherished for years to come.

Many sweet blessings to you and yours!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's all in the bag

Here's a time-saving cooking tip I thought I'd share with you today. We all know how convenient it is to use a slow cooker, right? Just put your food in it in the morning, turn it on low and at dinner time, you've got your meal ready. What could be easier?

Evidently, someone thought that clean-up could be easier and I'm thrilled with their invention.

Several months ago, I started using these slow cooker bags and found them to be the next best thing since sliced bread. Have you seen them at the store? They look like this:

You place the bag inside the slow cooker, put you food in it and cook it as usual, and the best part comes after the meal. When it's time for clean-up, you just throw away the bag! The inside of the cooker stays clean so no more soaking and scrubbing. Pretty smart invention if you ask me.

Now, why can't I think of things like that?!

Monday, December 15, 2008

It takes a (Christmas) village

Each December, some of my favorite decorations to put up are my Christmas villages. This year, I did two. Would you like to see them?

Oh good, because it just so happens that I'm joining Boomama's Christmas tour of homes by taking you today on a tour of my Christmas villages. Let's get started!

Sunday morning and Pastor Bob stands outside the church to greet everyone.

Since he likes to buy candy and flowers for his wife, I've conveniently placed Chelsea's right next to the church.

A few shops, with the pharmacy in the back.

I hear this Bed and Breakfast is fully booked a year in advance.

Here's some last-minute shopping made easy.

Please pretend along with me that the little old lady could actually fit through the door of the grocery store. Without going in sideways and in a horizontal position, that is. :)

Ice skating at the tree lot today sounds like a lot of fun. And look, it's not too crowded!

If you're not the outdoors type, how about going for a visit to the museum?

I do believe this is how Toys'R'Us got started. Ah, the nostalgia!

I've always wanted to try my hand at pottery. And going down a sleigh with a friend!

Jacques the baker is giving away three loaves of bread today. Please pick moi!

I can see for miles and miles...

Every village needs a school, and this one is very special because it allows and even encourages prayer. :)

Although I didn't put up a village in my tearoom, I did move in this cute little green house.

The view from the side is even better!

That's about all I have to show you today, except that Boomama's guidelines mentioned leaving a Christmas recipe in our post. If you're here today for the first time, then you've missed my recent White Christmas Fudge recipe but you'll find it only a couple of posts down. And it just so happens I have some ready...

I hope you've enjoyed your tour today. Click here to see Boomama's decorations and to peak into the homes of her other participants. I can't wait to visit everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Welcome friends!

This is the welcome sign that hangs outside by our front door. Its job is to officially welcome guests and visitors before we can get to the door. You probably have one too, don't you?

At this time of year, all of us tend to do a lot of "welcoming". We entertain family and friends, maybe also a few neighbors, coworkers, etc.

However, when we already have so much on our plate, showing hospitality isn't always something we look forward to. It often takes a lot of our time, effort and money, but it doesn't have to.

It can be as simple as having a few friends over to play board games and calling for pizza. Or, how about going for a walk with family and friends in the neighborhood to see all the beautiful decorations and having them over afterwards for hot chocolate and a Christmas movie?

Sharing special moments with others by welcoming them to our home is something we are all called to do. In fact, God's Word tells us we must do it with a cheerful heart.

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9

Now that's to the point! Notice that the command is simply to "be hospitable". Nowhere does it say that we must try to outdo ourselves or Martha Stewart for that matter. It really can be simple and fun.

May the hospitality we'll all soon practice be a time of rejoicing and blessing for all of our guests as well as ourselves. :)

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Hebrews 13:2

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mary Engelbreit Christmas teapot

In the midst of decorating for Christmas, there's always some small treasure we're happy to see again and display. Today, I thought I'd share with you this cute little teapot of mine from Mary Engelbreit.

That was a view from the side. Now here's the front:

And the back...

Have you ever seen such a cute little house all decked out for Christmas? I almost wish I could move in!

It actually sits in the china cabinet in my tearoom all year round but at Christmas time, I really enjoy getting it out and using it. It's such a special treat!

I hope that today, you'll be able to join me in relaxing for a few moments, as we're busy with various preparations for the celebration of our Savior's birth. Slip away from the fast pace of the season for a little while and treat yourself to a nice cup of tea, coffee, hot cocoa or apple cider in your very favorite mug. :)

Wishing you a wonderful day and many sweet blessings!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

White Christmas fudge

Can I let you in on a secret? Sugar and I are pretty close. But as much as I enjoy sweet treats, I actually enjoy sharing them even more. With Christmas fast approaching, I have even more reasons these days to spend time in my kitchen baking and making all kinds of sweets.

One of the things I make every year at Christmas time is white chocolate fudge. It's a rare treat because it's super sweet. Just know that a little bite really goes a long way. If you'd like to make it, here's what you'll need:

2 packages (6 squares each) of Baker's premium white baking chocolate
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds (toasted or not, either way works great)
2/3 cup dried cranberries or craisins (I typically use craisins)

I believe I mentioned that this is super sweet, right? Look no further for the reason why:

This is how this yummy treat gets started. Put the 12 white chocolate squares in a large bowl and pour in the condensed milk. Microwave them on high for 2 to 3 minutes until the chocolate is almost melted and stir with a spatula until the chocolate melts completely. Add the orange peel, almonds and craisins, and stir until all the ingredients are well blended. Pour into an 8x8 pan lined with foil extending over the sides of the pan.

Refrigerate it for at least 2 to 3 hours before serving. Lift the fudge out of the pan using the foil handles, then peel the foil off the fudge. Cut into 5 rows both ways to make 25 squares.

If you behaved and didn't lick the spatula (probably because someone else got to it first!), now is your chance to get a taste. Go ahead and take one while you still can!

Store the fudge in a plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks but frankly, I can't imagine it lasting that long. It'll be gone within a few days, especially if you're in a sharing mood. As a matter of fact, this fudge makes a great gift. Not that you have to give it all away, of course. Just keep a couple of pieces to have along with your cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy a great way to sweeten up your day! :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Seasons of change, seasons of courage

I don't know about you but I'm a creature of habit. Give me good old predictability any day and I'll leave the surprises for those who enjoy living on the edge.

I think we can all attest though, that once in a while life will throw an unexpected change or turn of events in our direction. The kind that makes not only our routine come to an end but sometimes as much as our current way of life.

In the midst of unexpected changes, big or small, we need to muster up the courage to face them head on.

After all, change can be threatening. It can rob us of our peace of mind, comfort and health. Things like moving, changing jobs or losing a job, mourning a loved one, coping with a newly diagnosed health issue, a sudden empty nest, and so on.

As always, God is aware of our need for courage and wisdom during all of our seasons of change. He doesn't want us to go it alone but with His help.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Courage in the midst of change is not always easy to come by but we must remind ourselves that as children of our Heavenly Father, we are never alone in any of it. If you're in one of those seasons at this time, be encouraged that the Lord is with you today and always.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9